What God Asked Me After I Listed All the Things That Suck About My Life

I left a party a few nights ago. The laughter and the food and the deep conversations had helped me forget about the things in my life I’d rather not think about, but as soon as I turned my car for home and drove through the humid summer night along winding back roads, I remembered. That there is so little money. That we are still looking for our own place. That the drop-dead date I gave myself to get this writing life going again is six weeks away.

Behind me, the western sky still had the slightest tint of color, but I was driving east, driving fast, driving into the dark. I rolled down my window and the rushing sound of heavy, August air filled the van. I decided that I had had enough, so I began making a list for God of all the things in my life that sucked.

And I guess he was in a listening mood because I went on for a few miles without any sort of response. Typical, I thought to myself. Where are you? I’m exhausted. I’m worn out. I can’t believe you keep asking me to wait. Wait! For what?

Then another narrative began floating through my brain, a narrative that did not feel like my own creation, a dialogue inside of myself with someone or something entirely separate from me.

What if you remain a semi-mediocre writer for the rest of your life – would you still love me? the voice asked.

“That would be disappointing,” I muttered. “But, yeah, sure, I’d still love you.”

What if you never make as much money or have as much security as some of your friends – would you still love me?

“Yeah,” I mumbled. “If I’ve learned anything in the last three years, it’s that I can live an adventurous life without much money. So, sure, I’d still love you.”

What if you couldn’t write for a living any longer – would you still love me?

I was starting to understand where this was going.

“Yes,” I whispered. “Yes.”

What if you lost everything – would you still love me?

Silence. Stillness. The sound of air rushing through the window at fifty miles per hour.

I arrived at my parents’ house and parked the van, then walked inside. I went down the stairs into the basement. I stopped in front of the cupboards and saw a piece of paper hanging where I had put it three years ago during the toughest time of my life. On the paper, printed in ink the color of the western sky just after the sun sets, are the following words:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

I am driving into the darkness. Driving. Driving. Driving. Waiting for the morning.

51 Replies to “What God Asked Me After I Listed All the Things That Suck About My Life”

  1. Waiting. The toughest thing we’re ever asked to do. It’s ‘my word’ for 2012. And I don’t like it one little bit. But – I will say to you…hang in there. Hang on. Praying for light … just enough to see the next step. Trusting it will come at exactly the right time.

  2. I think He wants us to waitcon Him because He is more impotant than all of those things. He wants to be our priority. I ‘mhave trying to learn what I just said.

  3. Thanks Shawn! Beautiful reminder. My husband and I are there right now. I was thinking yesterday how beautiful and precious it is to embrace the Father when you have NOTHING. And how he designs that moment because he loves me.

  4. Wow, just wow…this so spoke to my soul that tears formed as I thought of my husband on unemployment that is running out while he attempts to get his degree and work a warehouse job that pays far less than his previous job, while he feels like he isn’t providing for his family and questions the point to it all anyway…Thank you. I hope your words also touch his heart deeply.

  5. I’m again struck at the reality that this message, these feelings, this continual quest for things to be as we think they should, is what so deeply resounds with your audience…because everyone feels this way at some point in their lives. I love your vulnerablility, Shawn. He is the great I AM, and you are exactly where He intended!

    1. Thank you, Karen. I almost pulled this post at the last minute because of that very thing: it felt too vulnerable. And I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, because most of the time I love my life. But thank you for your kind words.

  6. Your comments reminded me of Job. What a huge lesson to learn…to love him with your whole heart even when you feel like He isn’t listening or answering your prayers or even helping in any way. Ten years and 3 months ago, I was in a similar place. I thought I was pure in heart, prayed for years, fasted, did everything I thought was required of me. But yet, I still lost my marriage, the vast majority of my friends, my church family, my job, all my finances. There was a deep gnawing in my gut, a sick feeling, like a horse just kicked me in the stomach. Still, that night as I lay on a mattress on the floor of a locked/protected facility, I closed my eyes and said, “Thank you, Lord, that I can fall asleep in peace.” Things don’t always turn out the way we think they should even when we believe we’ve been faithful and steadfast in prayer. But I know now that God had a better plan for me than answering my prayers back then. It is with a grateful heart that I say, “His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways.” Anxiously waiting with you to see what God has in store for an awesome writer and his family!

  7. What a sense of humor God has, calling you a semi-mediocre writer. :)

    What has God promised, friend? I think maybe it’s Himself and not our dearest dreams, which can so often fail us– even if we get all the book deals in the world, even if we’re far better than semi-mediocre writers.

  8. Sounds like a familiar conversation. I appreciate your honesty. I cling daily to Galatians 6:9.

    Maybe this is “all” God has for my life here on Earth. So, lately I’ve tried to make it about loving and serving others. Living this life with an eternal mindset.

    You absolutely have a gift. Be encouraged. Love him for what you have and continue touching others through your words. It is inspiring. :)

  9. This sounds so similar to the more heated conversations that I have had with God. I don’t like waiting, this place of in-between. Some days, I can answer that sure, I love God. Others, I can’t. Truly beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I can appreciate those heated conversations. I feel so much more genuine and alive after an intense discussion with God where I let him have it – I imagine it is like when my son throws a tantrum and I just hold him close and tell him it’s okay for him to be angry, and eventually I can feel his muscles relax.

  10. I have been reading since the beginning of your road trip, and haven’t commented for a whole host of reasons, but while what you wrote today might not be your favorite thing to write (or to hear from God) I am grateful that you shared it.

  11. You know, I could you platitudes, but they are nothing compared to the hard work of waiting praying for you, brother.

  12. Yes! And another yes!
    Like Job said – though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Though we wait, and wait, and wait for *that* day to come – yet we keep on going, knowing that He is leading. Thanks for the way you intertwine your faith with your writing. It is encouraging to hear a Christian perspective on these things.

  13. Waiting often really, really stinks. But all to often, that is exactly what we need. Be encouraged. While I know my attitude is often, “What’s next? What am I doing next?” that is an easy way to not enjoy or savor the moments in the journey.

  14. Hebrews 11:39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,
    These words often come to my mind. The aforementioned men and women of faith staked their lives on a promise that they did not see fulfilled on earth. Many look at such a life as a waste, but THANK GOD that He gives us His commentary! He was pleased with their enduring faith and trust in Him! Such faith is not always rewarded with visible blessing on this earth, but do you think any of those people are in glory now saying, “You know what, I really wish I had trusted God less and made more money or gained more popularity while I was on earth.” I know, what a stupid thought; laughable even. I am praying that you will find boldness in your weakness and that your life would continue to be an expression of a God who is greater than what we think we need right now. -matt

  15. Hang in there. You know, we all feel like Job, many times in our lives, but, but, BUT, unless you are one of those people that you gave the quarter to, then we need be ashamed of ourselves. Of course the quarter person must not have had enough faith, collecting quarters is a choice, not a punishment. (Unless I am wrong, I think God DOES NOT punish us, we punish us.) At the worse time in my life, I realized I still had my wonderful children — Job lost his. You Shawn have that so needed faith, and God given ability to touch the lives of others. Although we have never met, I feel we are good friends – brought together by God, for whatever reason. I am so glad I read the article in the paper about your upcoming trip. I so look forward to seeing your name on my incoming emails. I love your writings, and the comments too. This is just another gift God has given me, and I thank Him..

  16. That moment in the van with God—it’s what it feels like to be contained and freed, enveloped and launched, all at once. So powerful (and so, of course, so frightening, too). Thanks for sharing the mystery God.

  17. So convicting. You made me think and blog. I’ve got a post brewing and I want to quote you with a link back to this post.

    1. Can’t wait to catch up with you again soon, Mark. All thanks to a “random” meeting at the cafe a year ago. I think we were both waiting that day, and it just goes to show you what can happen in that space.

  18. Shawn,
    I’ve been here. A dear friend said once “One day it will all just be different.” Security is an illusion….live life through the smiles of today. God and Love are the only eternal. Your writing touches everyone because its so honest and open.

  19. You have no idea how much I related to this post, Shawn. I would only add another verse from Hebrews: “Let us hold unswervingly to the faith which we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” I pray for you and me both that the waiting will soon be over.

  20. And everything about Joseph’s life prepared him for the leader that he would one day become — the abandonment, the betrayal, the isolation — all of it. What may look like failure may be nothing more than preparation for greater things to come. We are not the main character in this story. He is.

  21. Hi Shawn,

    Did you ever think of writing a daily meditation book? You have so much that’s good to say, and your writing is such a useful ministry to so many of us. The blogs are good practice in daily writing, but they are temporary. Your talent deserves a more permanent form. And speaking of permanent writing, as in books,–writing the narratives of others may pay the bills (on a good week), but your own experiences and ideas say the most.


    1. Barb, you are so kind. I’m always open, and only time will tell which direction my writing goes. Thanks for your encouragement.

  22. I told a dear friend recently that I was feeling the call or the desire to be “more obedient.” In her quiet way she suggested we talk not about obediene, but about love, because love multiplies. So now I’m responding to God’s call of love with love and trusting in the multiplying power of love. This was the only way I was able to start writing, something I believe God has been calling me to for a long time. Obedience is a contract, with certain terms and limits, but love is an invitation with breadth and depth that cannot be exhausted. So now I write “for love” and “for joy” until I start to get distracted by things like success and popularity and money(!). I write because it draws me deeper into the love of God and because it offers me one more outlet to live out, shout out, write out that love to the world around me and for this I can only be grateful.

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